(*) who / that "comprehends" all created things, His / its own human history included.
1 (Actual Present) can shape the 2-5 set, but not itself.
1 is the "origin without origin."
All of this can be compared to St Augustine's theory of the divine Trinity, where 1 corresponds to God the Father, 2-5 to the Logos (*), and the Spirit means the 1-5 unity.
(*) who / that "comprehends" all created things, His / its own human history included.
At the beginning, just to make things easier, Dougal Dixon's book has been included in 1 (Actual Present) together with us readers, etc. But, to be sure, it already belongs to 3 (Past), as it has already given origin to what German scholars call Wirkungsgeschichte, the "history of its effects."So, now the whole process should be repeated at a more complex level...
4 (Alternative Future, starting from the Cretaceous period) is a fine example of the fact that we cannot think 3 (Past) except in relationship to its future i.e. 1 (Actual Present).
E.g. when we say, "At the time of dinosaurs," we say it right now. The so-called "time of dinosaurs" is a concept we work out in our own time.
Pushing the issue further on the basis of the Dixon book: we cannot think 3 except by means of 2 (Alternative Present).
By adapting the terms a bit, this pattern can be applied to Dante's Divine Comedy and John Milton's Paradise Lost. In the case of Dante, 4 being the Purgatorio.
As Desmond Morris again remarks in his Foreword, 2 (Alternative Present) makes us think 5 (Our Future) differently.
But, more in depth, 5 i.e. what we expect conditions the way we see 2.
ESSENTIAL BIBLIO-FILMOGRAPHYPlanet of the Apes, any version.
In a small, beautiful valley at the foot of the Eden mountain, Dante sees the very serpent who tempted Eve: a reptile that would be some 5,500 years old, according to Medieval chronology from the beginning of the world to the poet's time. Anyway, time to re-pent!
P.S. Dante shows to follow the same tradition as Milton did, i.e. that the Serpent was a normal snake being haunted by Satan. While, according to other interpretations, the beast was the devil himself.
All those who (really) love (really) retro sci-fi cannot miss (provided they are lucky enough to live in Italy) the just newly published color version of Zagor - Il mostro d'acciaio (Zagor vs. the Steel Monster), first published in b&w in 1963. Please notice the dynamic mecha design and the very useful arms-forward posture, along with the Frankensteinian neck cathodes or wtf. The giant robot has been invented by the crazy Professor Hellingen, who wants to - yeah - Conquer All Nations, starting from a small island of the First Nations. But do not fear, the unarmed hero will stop him and it within the space of few pages.
Need to add? I fully enjoyed it!!! Yay!!!
The study on 3 (Past), performed in 1 (Actual Present), provides materials to invent 2 (Alternative Present).
But the opposite is also true: 2 provides ideas that let 1 figure 3 out.
ESSENTIAL BIBLIOGRAPHYFriedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.
2 (Alternative Present) is not "unreal," since it does exist inside 1 (Actual Present), as Desmond Morris also notices in his Foreword to Dixon's book.
Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying.
Follows from yesterday.
1 - Actual Present: Dougal Dixon, the first person narrator, we readers...
2 - Alternative Present
3 - Past, residual forms included (Megalosaur, etc.)
4 - Future, both referring to the Cretaceous period
5 - and as a possibility for the "tomorrow" of 1.
See time(s) in St Augustine's philosophy.
... to be continued ...
A lot of people, namely young artists, still nowadays pay homage to Dougal Dixon's classic handbooks of Alternative Evolution After Man and New Dinosaurs (published in the 1980s) by inventing further 'possible' species. Here too some samples have been posted in the previous months. Now, however, the attempt will be to develop some thoughts about the meaning of Time, i.e. the whole universe, based on the features of those two books, or more specifically New Dinosaurs.
The starting point being the following diagram:
... to be continued ...
Books that present an alternative view on Dante's life and ideas usually provide some new, interesting, even brilliant insight--- together with some tons of bull's sub-products. Well, Adriano Lanza's Dante all'inferno. I misteri eretici della Commedia [Dante in Hell: Heretical Mysteries in the Divine Comedy] is suprinsingly not so. Not just some scattered details, but the very thesis of the essay, i.e. that Dante was a hidden member of the most dangerous and persecuted late Medieval 'heretic' movement, the neo-gnostic Cathars, fascinates the reader with its consistency, both as far as the text of the poem is concerned, and the documents we have about his life and environment. Among the many thrilling hints, this one stands out: Beatrice as Dante's "heavenly twin," his spiritual Doppelganger; an interpretation key that would make a lot of things clearer.
Adriano Lanza, Dante all'inferno. I misteri eretici della Commedia, Rome: Tre Editori, 1999
After a thorough rereading of Bram Stoker's Lair of the White Worm, the first impression is strengthened: the writer had possibly prepared some chapters of the book, and drafted other parts, while developing different narrative hypotheses --- then, he decided to publish the text "as was" at that time, all incongruencies and 'bugs' notwithstanding, as if he was in a hurry for some reason.
Anyway, his overall worldview is quite clear, and perfectly matching the one in Dracula. In general, a struggle of Reason against Chaos and Fury. More in depth, a religious battle of Light against Darkness. More practically, the triumph of the Western pattern of civilization: see, in the final part of the novel, the "white worm" turning into a rich "white clay" mine. Economy conquers Myth.
As to the religious side, the good Power is a general God, identifying much more with Nature than with Christ. In fact, whereas the personages playing the role of Satan are obvious both in Dracula and in The White Worm, no specific person embodies the Savior, except maybe the main characters, but in a very pale way.
The most interesting "moral," however, in both novels, is that the villains are solitary, introvert, selfish guys; while the most positive values turn out to be solidarity, team job, sharing, cooperation. This is truly the Saving One.
In The Lair of the White Worm, ch. 20, Bram Stoker brings to the extreme consequences the well-known verse of Genesis 3.1, "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field..." using it as a starting point for a radical neo-Lamarckian evolution theory which lets a prehistoric, plurimillennial, giant snake change into a sentient being --- and more than that, a human being, namely Lady Arabella.
Stoker could be inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost too, where Satan makes Eve believe that the Serpent, by eating the forbidden fruit, has evolved, and can now think and speak.
But this thrilling hypothesis contradicts what Stoker himself tells in ch. 8, where the reader is informed that Arabella had a normal childhood. Just after her tragic illness, 'death' and sudden 'resurrection' did she acquire that reptilian strength and psychology, being haunted by the White Worm as by a devil. That's the same process that already Dracula himself had undergone, before, and his victims afterwards. A narrative device Lovecraft powerfully employs, e.g., in his The Thing on the Doorstep.
Unfortunately, Stoker does not explain this incongruity.
Another couple of intriguing quotes:
(from ch. 20) There were all sorts of legal cruxes to be thought out, not only regarding the taking of life, even of a monstrosity in human form, but also of property. Lady Arabella, be she woman or snake or devil, owned the ground she moved in, according to British law.
(from ch. 21) This one is a woman, with all a woman’s wit, combined with the heartlessness of a cocotte. She has the strength and impregnability of a diplodocus.
of the Dark
Sci-fi horror literature, or horror sci-fi one, rests on a firm ground of ancient (literally) "common place," so it is often difficult to state who reworks who, or whether two writers were just referring to the same traditional imagery.
E.g., did HP Lovecraft know Bram Stoker's Lair of the White Worm? If he did, some trace may be found in his stories The Dunwich Horror; At the Mountains of Madness, with the metamorphic Shoggoths living hidden in ancient buildings, or The Haunter of the Dark, as for an alien psycho-entity dominating a man's mind.
Or again, cf. the many other "devils in disguise" in The Thing on the Doorstep, or The Whisperer in Darkness, or the hybrid creatures in The Shadow over Innsmouth.
All in all, The Colour out of Space describes a cursed land, a cursed soil indeed, and a cosmic horror based on light, colors, strange perceptions, much more than on any physical evidence.
The great difference, however, being the fact that Stoker - as he already did in Dracula - presents his monster as an outcome of unforeseen terrestrial evolution. We could avoid Cthulhuish invasions, but not the Earth's own irrational explosions. Which prospect is worse?
Dante meets a then famous coiner called "Mastro Adamo," Master Adam. According to St Augustine, Adam - the original one - was the most greedy man ever: he had God, and it was not enough...
By rereading ch. 4 of Bram Stoker's Lair of the White Worm, many 'hidden' references to Milton's Paradise Lost start to surface. It definitely looks like Stoker reworks the main characters of Milton's drama, as well as their relationships to one another.
For a starter, it can hardly be considered a chance if the very first word in the novel is "Adam," i.e. the main character's name. In ch. 4 and afterwards, Edgar Caswall, the evil castle owner, sort of plays the role of Satan. Which gets clearer if this is linked to his would-be love (or rather, sex) affair with Arabella, the Serpent Lady, matching not only the mythical Lilith but also, more specifically, Milton's Sin. As to the big, dark, disgusting Oolanga, he recalls Milton's Death because of his very look, and because he like weapons, and sniffs the scent of death like the Miltonian monster; he will even try to rape Arabella, as Death did to Sin in Paradise Lost.
Yep, worth a further study.
Who could ever succeed in such an enterprise, but the great Bram Stoker! The Lair of the White Worm, or, The Garden of Evil, was his last novel, published in 1911 just one year before his death. The main structures and characters rework – with interesting variations – his best known novel, once again setting the story among the products of modern technological civilization, the spell of country or wild landscapes, and ancient horror lore. But the novelties are amazing. If Dracula drew on the fantasy realm, The White Worm mixes cryptozoology and theology by creating an evolution-based reinterpretation of the myth of the Eden Serpent aka Lilith.
[follows: please click on “Read more”]